Saw Palmettos Importance to Wildlife

saw palmetto berries for wildlife

Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens), is an important plant to wildlife and insects. Growing almost exclusively in the state of Florida, in lower Georgia and southeast Alabama.
All parts of the saws palmetto are used by some kind of wildlife or insects. They are eaten and used as cover and nesting.

More than 100 bird species, 27 mammals, 25 amphibians, 61 reptiles, and countless insects use saw palmetto as food and/or cover (Maehr and Layne 1996).

In the spring, the three-foot stalks bloom with small yellowish-white fragrant flowers. This attracts many insects including pollinators and the very important honey bee.
The leaves are a host plant to the palmetto skipper and monk butterflies.

In the fall the stalks give birth to berries that are high in fat content. Bears, foxes, raccoons, birds, and others eat the berries. The berries are essential for bears who have to fatten up before the denning season. Berries are on plants from August to October the prime time for the bears to get their needed nutrition. Female bears must gain a lot of weight to be able to give birth. If they do not, the embryos will not implant and no cubs will be born.

saw palmentto stalks

These scrumptious berries (to wildlife), can be found in the local landscape, people’s yards and all over the state. You’d think that this would be enough for our bears and other wildlife and maybe for some wildlife it is, but with bears, they need to consume a LOT. And bears only live in certain areas, so for those areas, in particular, the berries and plants are especially needed.

The berries are believed to help BPH, benign prostatic hyperplasia. Studies have found both negative and positive results when compared to a placebo. Pharmaceuticals make claims that it does help, and thus they are a multi-billion dollar industry.
This industry has created a harvesting frenzy. The pickers glean as much as they possibly can to score big bucks from the buyers who in turn make a very handsome profit form the drug companies.

 

snakePickers actually risk their lives to gather these berries. The eastern diamondback rattler makes a home in the bushes. Bears frequent them. Biting insects as well. Then there are the over 90-degree temperatures that bring heatstroke and dehydration. The plants leaves are sharp and cut, thus the name “saw” palmetto. There are also risks of alligators if near water. But for over $1.00 a pound and at 100 pounds an hour, you do the math.


 

It used to be that the berries were harvested mostly by migrant workers that didn’t have a crop to pick at the time of year that the berries are ripe, but since it was so lucrative, lots of folks jumped in. At one time the berries were bringing three to four dollars a pound.

Because of the importance of the berries to particularly bears, bear advocates fought to have some restrictions placed on the harvesting.
Thus the Florida Dept. of Agriculture put forth the following:

Pickers must now have a permit from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Unfortunately, this permit is free and workers under a crew leader are not required to have a permit.
This is something that activists will be working to change in the future, along with some of the other things mentioned next.

It is unlawful to pick on any private land without the written consent of the owner along with their contact information.

It is also unlawful to pick on any public, state, city or county land unless permission is granted by the proper authority and submitted for approval on a permit application.

Buyers, transporters or processors are not required to have a permit, but they are required to have the following on their person at all times:

A bill of lading
A copy of the harvester’s entire permit, which now includes a second page that contains the permission letter(s).

Buyers, transporters, and processors are required to have a copy of the harvester’s entire permit, which now includes a second page
that contains the permission letter(s).

From reviewing posts by pickers, they report many buyers do not ask from any of these things. So, they do not have them.

This presents more governance needed by law enforcement who already have their hands full just busting illegal harvesters.

Further, The stalks that they remove will not produce blooms the next spring preventing insects and bees from having them to use.
There is no limit to the amount of berries that can be picked and it is reported that some pick 100 pounds an hour.

saw palmetto 5

Pictured above a local buyer readies his haul to take to Valensa, the pharmaceutical company that is the end buyer.  Local buyers set up at various locations and post their location on a Facebook page dedicated to getting this and other information out, like prices being paid. They often do not require any permits or permissions to be shown by the pickers.

So something needs to change.
The berry picking business is out of control.

Studies have not been done on the impact to wildlife yet, but it is believed that it may cause bears and others to go into neighborhoods searching for the food they need.

The saw palmetto is listed as a commercially exploited plant. This doesn’t seem like it’s a big deal since it only requires getting a free permit, permission letter and then it’s a free for all.

Between 45 and 50 million pounds of berries are harvested each year in the United States, 80 percent of which is exported, according to estimates from Valensa International, a leading manufacturer based in Lake County. Most of these berries come from Florida.

Visit on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Saw-Palmetto-Berries-For-Wildlife-109004287139364/

 

 

Advertisements
Saw Palmettos Importance to Wildlife

FWC Policies Must Change About Helping Wildlife

EDIT NOTE:  Since writing this I have received some other information regarding the incident below.  FWC contacted me after I inquired about it.  Their version is not the same as the one given below.  I found out that the fawn was kept 6-7 days before FWC took it from this person.  The officer had the option of not giving a citation as they do when it’s only been a couple of days in possession, but since this had been a week he cited the man.  A neighbor evidently made an anonymous call to FWC regarding this.

If you find injured/orphaned wildlife you are supposed to call FWC and let them handle it.  The humanity in us makes us wants to help the animal ourselves and certainly it’s even more so when it seems urgent, as this did.  FWC says they will respond within two hours.  With all of us carrying cell phones these days, we should be able to contact them quickly.  I don’t know why this person said there was no response from them.  I can only  trust this is what happened.   If you are not licensed to handle wildlife or keep them, you can be fined.  It’s sometimes a toss-up but just know the risks.


 

This is shared by permission:

 

Thursday 4/25/19
Approximately 3:30

A baby fawn was walking up to a lady by a busy roadway in Orlando. The lady attempted to call FWC multiple times. The mother deer was deceased nearby, she presumed to be hit by an automobile. The lady who called was advised by FWC to get the fawn to a fawn Rehabilitator. I had been in the area, the person was frantically trying to keep the deer from entering the busy road and getting hit. I offered to take it to a rehab place nearby, the person I knew was unable and unavailable to help because his recent fire and his facilities were destroyed by a recent fire. (Jim Bronzo) He advised me to take it to a rehabilitation facility in Brevard since I lived there I agreed to help. It was noted by both of us that the baby fawn’s ears were extremely curled, which is a sign of severe distress and needed immediate attention.

 

baby fawn

On my way home I bought temporary supplies, (receipt in hand) at Tractor Supply to begin nursing the starved, dehydrated, approximately 3-day old fawn.

Upon returning home the baby fawn was by this time going into shock from hunger and dehydration. The torque test revealed it was severely dehydrated. With having had a class 3 license in 2004, I knew what to do, act quickly on behalf of the fawn if it was going to make it to a rehab facility.

So I began using a Pedialyte liquid, (baby Gatorade) for hydration administered by an eye dropper. I administered 2-3 ml every 30 minutes by mouth to get it fluids. The baby deer improved slowly over the next 3 days and began to eat a 1 oz of baby kid (goat) formula by bottle. Using a warm washcloth stimulation, the baby deer finally urinated and had a bowel movement by the fourth day. Feeling the baby fawn was improving slowly, I researched several wild animal rehabilitation facilities nearby, left messages with no return calls. By the fifth day, she was eating 3-5oz of formula, every 3-4 hours, readily from the bottle.

Also during this time, my other half had been admitted to Holmes regional hospital for asthma attacks associated with pneumonia. So I was quite busy holding the homestead together with my 3 children and my 84-year-old demented mother, and a distressed baby deer.

By the 6th day, the baby fawn was ready to be placed at a rehab facility, but no return calls had been received, my other half had returned from the hospital on Wednesday evening.

baby fawn day 6

 

On the 7th day while I was at work, May 2, 2019, an FWC officer showed up at the residence, around lunchtime. (Officer Delano) Unaware of who reported the deer, my significant other showed him the baby deer, who was kept on a screened back porch. The baby deer was kept isolated there, with two bedding areas available for her comfort. It had a piece of indoor/outdoor carpet. She was isolated in hopes of a successful return to the wild. Officer Delano requested her to sign over the deer, which she cooperated fully. Tara also donated the bottle and kid formula to the rescue the deer would be taken. Tara had prepared a large transport box with hay for the 45-minute ride to the rehab facility. I, Paco, had a conversation about how I obtained the deer because Tara was unaware of the facts of the deer situation. Officer De Lano requested that I call him back upon returning home from work, which I complied with 2 times, De Lano sent FWC officer Hatfield at 7:30 pm to have me sign the deer release form and deliver a violation with fine of $331. 😕

The baby deer was taken to Creature safe place, in Ft. Pierce Florida, with Wynn Burns, who has stated, I did an excellent job rehabilitating the fawn, and the fawn was doing very well. She recommended I be placed on her list, to become a licensed independent rehabilitation person by obtaining a class 3 license.

I am making a $100.00 donation to Creature safe place on behalf of the deer. She stated she would write a letter of what a good job was done rehabilitating the baby fawn. Please share this story. It’s the ONLY way this crazy stuff is going to stop.

This was the officer, he was young polite and professional according to my other half, however, inexperienced being 3 months with FWC, I only spoke with him on the phone and answered all his questions. My other half signed a release for the fawn, the officer instructed me to call him when I returned home, I did so twice only to have another officer deliver a citation to me at 8 o clock at night, also after several attempts to text the officer on where the baby fawn was taken. Not one return text or call concerning the safe delivery of the baby fawn. I had to call 6 different places in Ft Pierce, the officer had told me during the phone conversation that the only rehabilitation facility is in Ft Pierce. But he didn’t even know the name. 🤦🏽‍♀️ The second FWC Officer did seem rather embarrassed having to deliver a citation.


There needs to be a policy change regarding people helping orphaned and injured wildlife.  Obviously, this fawn was of no threat to the man who helped it.  It’s not like he was trying to help a full-grown injured bear.  People run across injured, sick, orphaned, entrapped, etc. wildlife all the time and sometimes they must act to save the life of the animal.  FWC cannot always be there at the time to do anything to help the animal and as most of us know they often choose to euthanize rather than to save an animal.

Please email FWC’s commissioners to ask them to inform people better about these rules.  The majority of people do not visit the FWC website and are not educated about handing orphaned/injured wildlife.  https://myfwc.com/contact/fwc-staff/senior-staff/commissioners/

 

FWC Policies Must Change About Helping Wildlife

Protected: Untitled

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: Untitled

New Guided Nature Hikes in Central Florida

ecotiereaaa

Ecotiere.com is now offering nature hikes and lectures.

 

Expert wildlife specialist Fred Bohler is now ready to take you hiking and teach

all about Florida’s wonderful wildlife. You’ll explore and learn about tracks, bones,

habitat, creatures and many other things while you enjoy a fun hike with one of

Central Florida’s most knowledgeable nature lovers. 


About Fred Bohler:

fred1

Fred Bohler is a wildlife specialist and an accomplished speaker desiring to further the understanding between humans and wildlife.

.Fred has a special interest in reptiles, crocodilians, and arachnids.

His work has involved radio and television including programs such as Animal Planet.

He has also worked as a herpetologist and animal care specialist for zoological institutions and various government agencies and has closely worked with black bears.

His “life mission” is solving myths and phobias through wildlife education for the general public as well as one on one.


Guided Eco Nature Hikes

There are three locations to choose your hike from:

 

  • Wekiwa State Park – A  7,000-acre Florida State Park in Apopka, Florida.
  • Fechtel Tract – Lower Wekiva State Preserve – 8300 W. State Road 46, Sanford, FL
  • Rock Springs Run State Reserve Park – 30601 County Road 433
    Sorrento FL

Lectures

Lectures take place at Wekiva Island – 1014 Miami Springs Dr, Longwood, FL

fred4

For Booking Your Hike or Lecture and More Information, Go To –  http://www.ecotiere.com

 

Aside

Yes, FWC Kills Bears!

Recently an activist stated that FWC does not kill bears.  How bazaar coming from a bear activist who has been involved in stopping the bear hunts.   Anyone can request these records from FWC.

To prove my point about FWC killing bears, I am including some images of records sent to me from FWC of the bears that they have killed during 1/11/15 to 4/11/16. These records do not come color-coded. I did that so I could reference certain things more easily.

bear deaths 2bear deaths 3bear deaths 4bear deaths 1

Yes, FWC Kills Bears!

Spanky, the Death of a Neighborhood Bear – Letter to FWC

This letter was shared and was given permission to reprint.

tavaresbear1

An Open Letter to FWC Executive Director Wiley, Chairman Yablonski, and Commissioners
On October 24th, 2016, a mature, male black bear was illegally shot and killed in my subdivision in Tavares, Lake County. To you, this event may mean nothing more than an additional task for your Law Enforcement Division. To me, and to many of my neighbors, this event was a vicious, senseless crime, and a heartbreaking metaphor for the larger plight of Florida’s wildlife. I would like you to understand what the death of this bear means to us, and to recognize the broader implications of what has just happened here.
I have an intensely personal stake in this case. I grew up in the city of Detroit, Michigan – not exactly the best place for wildlife viewing. In 2006, I was fortunate enough to be able to build my current home, which overlooks one of the last undeveloped parcels of land within the city limits of Tavares. For the last ten years, my family and I have experienced the company of owls, ospreys, a bobcat, coyotes, and even a diamondback rattlesnake. But, since 2009, the animal we most enjoyed was “Spanky,” the bear, whose pathway between “wilderness” and “civilization” took him past our back door.
You probably think it is inappropriate, even silly, for ordinary people like us to give wild animals names. Perhaps we should have given him an impersonal, scientific designation, like B2009. But, to us, the bear was not just an entry in a database or a red dot on a map: he was an individual, a neighbor, virtually a member of our extended family. The person who intentionally took him from us has stolen one of the most cherished parts of our lives – a living being who connected us to wild Florida in a way that nothing else can, adding a magical quality to a daily routine otherwise dominated by long hours of work. When we found ourselves asking why we were working so hard – what we were working for – this solitary bear helped provide a better answer than anything our realtor told us in 2006.
As you may have seen from the television interviews with some of my neighbors, our bear had never presented a threat to our safety. We had many “up close and personal” encounters with Spanky over the years, and not once did he act aggressively. His worst offense was to break into our screened porch – lured in by the irresistible aromas of a recent fish-frying session – but even then we simply shooed him out and realized that we were more responsible for the problem than he was. We learned how to be “bear wise,” and thus for seven years we and Spanky were able to coexist quite happily. For the small price of simple changes in behavior, we reaped the great benefit of having a beautiful animal in our lives.
Your staff often refer to wild animals like Florida black bears as “renewable natural resources.” Spanky was not a “resource.” He was a unique character, living the best life he could in the diminished habitat we humans had left for him, and doing it with a gentle dignity that deserved, and received, our respect. Nor was he “renewable.” He is gone. He will not be – can not be – replaced. We do not mean this in a purely sentimental sense, for the little pocket of habitat that served as his home is far too isolated to ever again receive a bear, unless by some miracle. And the sad truth is that there is scant time for even a miracle to occur, as much of the undeveloped land in question will surely be converted into habitat for humans within the next few years. When we protest, we are told that we can not stand in the way of “progress,” and left to wonder what amount of impact fees can ever compensate a community for the loss of its wild heart.
One might have hoped, at least, that Florida’s “Wildlife Conservation” Commission would share our concerns about the crushing of many wild hearts across the state, yet your response to the killing of our bear was chilling. Mr. Workman – echoing a long line of similar statements in bear-related press releases – told the Leesburg Daily Commercial that your agency “diligently works to limit the challenges presented by our state’s large black bear population, which has been scientifically estimated to be over 4,000 bears.” In these circumstances, it is hard to imagine a more intellectually perverse and morally reprehensible comment.
Your representation of Florida’s black bear situation is exactly backwards. The bear population that you continually refer to as “large and growing,” or “robust and resilient,” is in fact only 0.02% of the human population, a massive disparity perfectly captured by the isolation of our bear, alone amid thousands of people. And his fate – deliberately killed by a human of defective character – poses the question that should be of central concern to any conservation agency worthy of the name; to wit, how to limit the challenges presented to our small black bear population by a vastly larger and infinitely more destructive human population?
It seems to me that there are two very obvious reasons for your blatant and repeated reversal of the proper perspective. First, Florida is “open for business” and your constitutional independence will no more impede the commercial juggernaut rampaging across our state than our city’s zoning board. Beyond this, though, lies a transparent attempt to convince the public, through a steady “drip, drip, drip” of agency messaging, that the state’s bear population is “too large” and must therefore be “managed” by hunting. This being the case, why should any citizen of Florida reporting a wildlife crime expect a satisfactory resolution, when the very agency in charge of the investigation seeks to provide hunters with an “opportunity” to kill the same animals, just under more “regulated” conditions?
In order to demonstrate your competence to protect our wildlife from those who have no more respect for your regulations than they do for God’s creatures, you must first acknowledge the consequences of your own actions. Our bear was killed on the one-year anniversary of last year’s bear hunt. This is surely no coincidence. The killer was clearly disgruntled about being denied a legal “opportunity” to kill this (or perhaps some other) bear, so he decided to flout your authority and have some illegal fun instead. (The “resource,” of course, was completely wasted, because no part of “it” was “harvested.” Maybe that, if nothing else, will command your attention.) Had you not decided to permit a bear hunt in 2015, this uniquely despicable motivation would never have arisen, and our bear would most likely still be with us, enriching our lives as he had for years before. Allowing hunting sent a message that bears were “fair game,” a message that continues to ring in certain ears long after the “season” ended. When you now attempt to outlaw the “taking” of bears you are, in effect, speaking out of both sides of your mouth, and one can only wonder how many other bears have died without media attention as a result of the signal you sent.
I do not, therefore, expect you to care about any sense of “justice” for our bear, even though almost all well-adjusted people believe that he deserves it. But I do imagine that you might wish to protect the credibility of your agency by proving that you are, in fact, capable of conducting a vigorous investigation of a repugnant wildlife crime. For if you can not apprehend and prosecute those who willfully violate your regulations, then your claim that hunting is “regulated” will crumble along with my shattered dream. And if you do not stand up for the remaining animals who are about to be swept away by the rising human tide – if you allow them to be shot in the back, just like Spanky – then the character of your agency will itself be “fair game” for all Floridians who shared a dream similar to mine.
Spanky was a “good ambassador” for his species, winning many friends in our community. The same can not be said for the human who took his life. As stakeholders in the conservation of Florida’s black bear, we must now rely on your agency to hold the killer accountable for his actions, and to keep us notified of your progress at all phases of the investigation. Having contributed to the climate that fomented this crime, you owe us no less. The debt you owe to Spanky, however, can never be repaid.
Sincerely,
Jacqueline Elfers Nicholson,
Tavares, FL

 

Spanky, the Death of a Neighborhood Bear – Letter to FWC

Orlando Sentinel helping spin lies about the black bears

 

os

 

Nick Wiley did not disclose that he is the executive director of FWC in the recently published article he wrote to the Orlando Sentinel. As executive director he is clearly
biased and so that articlle should be read as tongue in cheek, or fingers crossed behind the back.

Regarding the number of bear calls in 2002 – The bears were still on the endangered list.
In 2015 – The bears were not and FWC was asking people to call if they even saw a bear!
I’d say they were working their spin to get people to agree to a hunt. Not that people’s opinion matter but it’s better to instill fear, such as Marion Hammer with the NRA just did by saying bears are terrorizing our neighborhoods! What a lie! And that’s all we get from such hunting biased organizations and people.

The count of 4,350 did not deduct the over 600 bears killed last year!!! How’s that for spinning the truth?

I’m sick of all the lies just to try to justify a hunt that should not take place to please the mere 1% of the hunting populace in the state.

The bears are wandering out of their areas because people are feeding them and the forest are being dozed down. The oaks trees are being replaced with long-leaf slash pine which offers no food. The saw palmetto berries are being raped by illegals who sell them to the pharmaceutical industry.  Wiley failed to emphasize the enormous problem there is with that! Omission of truth is lying!

Wiley mentioned the number of road kills. This in itself is controlling the numbers of bears along with the 129 that FWC killed last year and natural deaths. No need for a hunt.

We have “thousands of human-bear conflicts a year?” Seriously? A person seeing a bear in their yard is NOT a conflict! Keep it real. When you say these thing you know people are going to think there was interaction and that people were in danger! Shame on you!

Bears have increased all over the United States. Not just Florida. It’s not so much to do with FWC as it is with nature. And left to their own, nature will take care of the populations and control them.

For those reading this who do not know, “conservation” according to FWC includes hunting – killing. They do not “conserve.” They are mandated to provide hunting opportunities for hunters. That is their job!

The reason for Nick Wiley writing this article is to make the public trust the FWC in  making the decision for having another bear hunt. Pure and simple.

Unfortunately, The Orlando Sentinel did not allow people who are not subscribers to even comment on this article.  Guess they need the money.

If you want the truth about the bear hunts and the FWC, join a Facebook group devoted to them.

People owe it to our wildlife to be educated and fight for their lives.

Orlando Sentinel helping spin lies about the black bears